I am an EA NCAS riding coach, I teach a lot of kids and I am often asked for advice by parents considering the purchase of a first pony. There is a lot to consider and it always helps to engage the services of a professional like a vet and a coach. Here a just a few aspects that you should consider:
- Is your child riding independently? Are they balanced in walk, trot and canter and do they have good basic control over a horse or pony? In the early stages of riding children with good tuition improve quickly so a pony that may suit them now may not be suitable in six months’ time. So it is best to wait and let your child develop their riding skills.
- What is the purpose of the pony? Find a pony that is happy, healthy, age and size appropriate for your child. Get a vet check; it is just like an RAA check for your car but for your horse. Not all horses will pass with flying colours but your vet will be able to advise you if the pony is fit for purpose.
- What is your budget? I think it is important to remember you get what you pay for! You would not put a learner driver in a car with no brakes and rough steering because it’s a cheaper option. The pony doesn’t have to be a show stopper but it does need to be well educated and your child should be able to safely walk, trot and canter on it.
- Where might this lead? Whilst your child might be in the early stages of riding try not to get a pony that will put limitations on them. Not everyone wants to compete, but you just never know, so leave your options open choose a healthy quality pony that will be competitive, then if your child wants to attend Pony Club, Compete or go to other horse events they can. Consider the pony’s resale value.
- How well do you know the horse? Never put your child on a horse that a seller is not prepared to ride first. It is standard when trying horses to buy that someone will ride the horse or pony for you first so you can see how it performs, if the seller is not prepared to ride the horse or pony first don’t risk putting your child on it. Don’t buy other people’s problems!
The most important thing to remember is riding should be fun, so a happy, healthy, well-educated and safe combination will go a long way to establishing good riding habits and skills that will last a life time!